Both Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert will be notable absentees from the 2024 Cyclocross World Championships. According to exercise physiologist Paul Van Den Bosch, a growing focus on the road is the clear reason for the pairs reduced calendars.
"A cyclocross season is not ideal preparation for a road season," Van Den Bosch explains in conversation with Sporza, attempting to explain why two of the discipline's biggest stars would opt against competing for the Rainbow Jersey. "It can be combined with a limited number of crosses, but those top riders should not be considered the norm."
Tom Pidcock opts out of cobbled classics, focuses on Ardennes and Olympic Games MTB and road race combo
As mentioned, whilst their calendars are reduced, both Pidcock and van Aert will be in action during the winter. "I'm happy that the team still allows them to cross," adds Sporza commentator Paul Herygers. "Although it is gradually becoming a bit artificial. The road takes precedence and yet they continue to express themselves in the field."
"I assume it is possible, but a World Championship comes with a lot of stress," he explains. "A rider feels best when he can complete his planned program and at a World Championship you go deeper than you had previously thought. And for Wout van Aert, his defeat last season may have played a role. He had the upper hand for a long time, until that one day."